Sergery: Textured Nylon vs. Polyester (especially for roll hems!)

Traditionally, sewists use polyester cone thread for serger sewing. Polyester is good because it’s strong and cone thread maximizes yardage. Sergers are thread-eaters! You can actually use a variety of threads in a serger–metallic threads, thin ribbons, fishing line-like nylon, & textured nylon. We carry Maxi-Lock at the store (it’s an industry standard) but Gutermann also makes a high quality cone thread. This is definitely a case of using a better thread creates better results. Thread breakage and tension problems can be a result of what is essentially bits of lint glued together and called “serger thread”. If the price is too good to be true, leave it. You’re not doing yourself any favors. Soap-box rant over.

But today what I want to talk about here is textured nylon thread. Sometimes referred to as Wooly Nylon (which is actually a brand name for a YLI product, it’s like calling all tissues Kleenex), this almost spongey, yarn-like thread actually expands and contracts with tension. It can be used in both the loopers and needles.

Maxi-Lock Stretch, a textured nylon serger thread.

One of my great joys is roll hemming on a serger. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it looks great! Finishing garment edges (instead of hemming or facing), napkin edges, and home dec projects are all great places to utilize this bulk-free finish. Settings are pretty consistent, though location of knobs may vary. Short length, narrow width, and crazy tension settings. Your manual likely came with a chart of some kind outlining these settings. Think of it as normal, high, and higher. The left needle is removed.

The lower looper is pretty tight.

Don’t forget the stitch selection lever–it should be pulled towards you (or the finger removed, depending on your machine).

Towards machine for overlock, towards you for roll hem.

By using textured nylon thread in the upper looper, the thread will actually expand and fill in the air between the stitches. Here you can see a roll hem made with regular polyester cone thread…

Can you see the white peeking through the stitches?

…and here I replaced the upper looper with Maxi-Lock Stretch.

Beautiful, filled-in black without a hint of white.

The textured nylon is really soft and completely washable, so it’s also great for overlocking projects like swimwear, sportswear, kids, lingerie. Try it out on your next project and see the difference!

11 Responses to “Sergery: Textured Nylon vs. Polyester (especially for roll hems!)”

  1. New to the Shop: Neon Serger Thread | Modern Domestic | Portland, OR

    […] Textured Nylon vs Polyester (especially for roll hems!) […]

  2. June

    Hi – can you tell me if the two threads really make a difference when sewing knits? Does the maxi-lock work well on knits, but maxi-lock stretch is just better OR is it that maxi-lock really isn’t compatible with knits? Thank you!

  3. Kennedy Brouillard

    If I use the wolly nylon to create a rolled hem on stretch fabric using my serger, will it prevent the edge from “lettucing”? I want my edge to lie flat. Thank you!

  4. rebecca

    If you want to reduce the lettucing, you’ll need to change your differential feed to 1.5 or 2. I suggest testing it out first to get the settings right. Good luck!

  5. Joni

    I have been putting maxi lock stretch in my lower and upper looper. Do I need to just put it in my upper looper? I have been doing rolled hems on the bottom of girls’ skirts. Love it!

  6. rebecca

    Hi Joni,
    You can put it in one OR both. If you put it in one, just do your upper looper.

  7. Amy

    Can you iron over the stretch thread, if they are for napkins?


  8. meredith

    You sure can! You probably could melt the thread but it would take quite a bit of heat being pressed on it for a long time to finally melt. I press mine all the time with no problems. Thanks!

  9. Annamay Senffner

    I have a Baby Lock Imagine with the jet air system for threading the loopers. Can I use Maxi-Lock Stretch using the jet air system to thread like I can regular Maxi-Lock? I have both vision and hand tremors that make it difficult to thread the machine manually. I also had a question about whether it should be used in loopers and needle, but I think that was answered for rolled hems, but is it also the same answer for 3 thread serging (narrow)?

  10. Rebekah

    Hi Annamay, you can absolutely use the Maxi-Lock Stretch with your jet air system. You will want to use it in the loopers only, not the needle–that holds true for rolled hems as well as 3 thread serging.

  11. Myranda

    Thank You for covering stretch thread. I have been looking all day online as to its proper use in the serger. Didn’t know if I needed it in the needles or the loopers or both. Happy to find out I only need it in loopers.

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